school choice

Rachel Morello

A new player enters Milwaukee's booming school choice landscape this fall: St. Augustine Preparatory Academy – Augustine Prep, for short.

Over the next five years, the private voucher school is expected to accommodate up to 1,700 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. That will make it the second-largest private school in Milwaukee’s Parental Choice program.

Rachel Morello

Gov. Walker has declared this week “School Choice Week” – and if there’s one thing that characterizes choice in Wisconsin these days, it is competition to attract students.

Schools are working to distinguish themselves through marketing.

Bill McChesney/Flickr

The relationship in Milwaukee between public schools and private choice schools has long been a contentious, or at least a competitive oneState funding comes attached to thousands of students who can attend either sector at public expense. Now, the concern is transportation.

Rachel Morello

Milwaukee is home to the longest-running school voucher program in the country. And even though it is more than a quarter-century old, the system still generates plenty of division.

Before the election, Marquette Law School planned to host a conversation about lessons the city has learned about vouchers. Now the topic is even more relevant, because the nation may head down the path Milwaukee has followed for more than 25 years.

Rachel Morello

It’s “back to school” time across Milwaukee.

For about 100 students on the near south side, this fall marks a brand-new experience – not only for them, but for their school, Stellar Collegiate.

It’s the brainchild of a local educator, and many parents are putting their faith in her program that, this time last year, they knew nothing about.

Rachel Morello

A number of people in Milwaukee are creating schools. It’s possible, in part, because of the community’s thriving charter and voucher school programs, which provide public funding.

Michelle Maternowski

The Milwaukee Public Schools system has been shrinking in terms of enrollment. Now, it could lose more buildings, too.

When a school closes, it goes on a list of vacant, or “surplus” properties.

Friday, the Common Council approved five interested entities who can buy those buildings. Not on the list: MPS.

Cory Savage (Savage Solutions LLC)

It’s not often that someone builds a brand new school in Milwaukee. But it’s going to happen soon on the south side. St. Augustine Preparatory Academy will open on 5th Avenue, west of Interstate 94,  in summer of 2017.

When Waukesha businessman Gus Ramirez looked at Milwaukee’s educational landscape, he saw a need for better schools.

“About half of the Milwaukee students in all sectors – public, charter and choice – are going to awful schools. Not just bad, but awful schools,” Ramirez reflects. “We’re one of the worst in the country.”

Mitzi Keel, Schools That Can Milwaukee

School choice is an extremely divisive issue in Milwaukee, and across the state.

Public and private education advocates are passionate about their respective sectors – and their students, yet not always about each other.

But with Valentine’s Day on the horizon, educators from public, charter and voucher schools decided to embrace the spirit of the holiday this week.

They tucked politics away for one night to show each other some "cross-sector love." 

Sean Hackbarth, flickr

Milwaukee boasts the largest school voucher program in the country. More than 25,000 students here are participating. Wisconsin also runs its own statewide program, along with another in Racine.

Choice programs give interested families public education dollars, or vouchers, to send their kids to private schools.

Educators across the country are celebrating school choice week.

BART EVERSON, FLICKR

This week, educators across the country will celebrate school choice week. Milwaukee is home to the oldest and largest school choice, or voucher program, in the nation. This year, 27,000 Milwaukee students are using state-funded vouchers to attend private schools; most are religious and many, Catholic.

The school landscape has changed dramatically in Milwaukee, starting after religious schools were folded into the choice program in 1998.

Bart Everson, flickr

Proponents of parental school choice programs in the state will mark 25 years of school choice this evening. A coalition of groups is organizing the event featuring a number of speakers from throughout the movement’s history.

It comes as debate over the future of education in Wisconsin remains heated, and as the leading choice advocacy group holds its annual conference beginning Thursday in Waukesha. Lake Effect's Mitch Teich talks with Jim Bender, president of School Choice Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson will come to Milwaukee today Monday to host a hearing on the city’s school Choice program. He specifically wants information about a federal probe that’s been underway. It’s been looking into whether the voucher program has discriminated against students with disabilities. The investigation started nearly eight years ago.

Senator Ron Johnson says he has every right to demand answers from the Justice Department because he’s chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Gus Ramirez wants to build a four-story school on 5th and Harrison, in Milwaukee's Walker's Point/Bay View neighborhoods. The school he envisions would educate children living in the area and would be either a charter or voucher school, in essence, an alternative to MPS.

On Monday, the City Plan Commission voted unanimously in favor of rezoning the land, so that it could accommodate a school. The recommendation now goes before a Common Council committee.

Gov. Walker spent time in New Orleans Monday, touting plans to expand Wisconsin’s school voucher program. Tuesday, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will debate his proposal.

While Wisconsin may open its voucher program to more students, not many other states are headed in that direction.

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